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Repositioning the customer support services: the next frontier of competitive advantage

Jagdish Sheth (Department of Marketing, Goizueta Business School, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Varsha Jain (Department of Marketing, MICA, Ahmedabad, India)
Anupama Ambika (Department of Marketing, MICA, Ahmedabad, India)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 26 June 2020

Issue publication date: 26 June 2020




This paper aims to analyze the present status of customer support services (CSS) and advocate the re-positioning of support services from an administrative cost center to a strategic profit center. Authors demonstrate how customer support or after sales services can be a source of competitive advantage and revenue generation for firms.


The study adopts a conceptual approach grounded in theoretical foundations of service dominant logic, customer loyalty and customer centricity along with practical illustrations from the industry.


Following the tenets of theory, review of existing research and analysis of the industry practices, the authors propose a new framework to enable the repositioning of customer service function. The key propositions include establishing customer support as separate business unit and insights center, introducing a new role of a C-level chief customer support officer to lead the customer support unit, adopting a customer-centric culture and process, enabling frontline IT support and investing in frontline employee skills development.

Research limitations/implications

Academics should examine the potential of customer support, where the strategic importance is low at present, leading to customer dissatisfaction. The new approach and positioning of customer support calls for a new direction for research in this area focusing on enablers, challenges and further implications. To succeed in this competitive era, firms should be conscious of the value of customer service and undertake concrete actions to generate value for all stakeholders.

Practical implications

Industry can use the new framework and re-position CSS of the organizations. The CSS unit can be different from other business units in the organizations. The CSS would evolve and emerge from the live customer insights. CSS unit can be managed by the C level chief CSS officer. Customer-centric culture would be developed and front line processes can be made customer-oriented by the officer. Thus, this paper and framework would provide new customer-centric directions to the organizations for effective functioning.


This is the original piece that has emerged from the experience and expertise of the authors.



Sheth, J., Jain, V. and Ambika, A. (2020), "Repositioning the customer support services: the next frontier of competitive advantage", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 54 No. 7, pp. 1787-1804.



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